Slow down, Billy!
Large- or mixed-animal veterinary practices located in towns expect some great escapes here and there. But why do these escape artists always seem to head for either the biggest highway in the county or a residential district?
You'd think we veterinarians would all know better than to build a large animal clinic in town. I can't speak for the rest of the country, but I know we do it in Texas. Every small to midsize city has at least one veterinary clinic that's not surrounded completely by a fence. This, of course, means there will be escapees.
I've worked as a veterinarian in two small Texas towns. What animal do you think would cause the most damage if it were let loose on the innocent citizens of rural America? Maybe a bull, a mean horse, a wild cow or perhaps a goat? What was that last one-a goat? I've had all of those critters loose at some time or another and I can tell you, the worst offender is the goat.
Off he goes
The little billy goat escaped first from its owner and then from me. This rascal was not much bigger than a boxer dog, but he was mighty. He was quick, smart and determined to remain intact. The clinic in Clarendon was on a major highway, and across this major highway was the high-dollar district.
Billy managed to cross the highway without encountering an 18-wheeler, leaving him free to roam some of the finer neighborhoods Clarendon had to offer. I was hot on his heels but had to stop at the highway to let a few cars pass. This gave him just enough of a head start that there was no way I could catch him on foot, so I decided to go back and get my truck. My last glance of him was turning right onto “Ritz Avenue.” I figured he would go for a while and then stop and graze on some Bermuda grass.
By the way, this goat was mangy, weighed about 65 pounds (probably 25 of which were horns), had a bad attitude and was used to running with about 40 nannies. As such, he was used to fighting other billy goats for the right to pass his genes on to those nannies.
Getting his goat on
As I drove down Ritz Avenue the goat was nowhere to be seen, but I knew where he'd been. About every second or third house on this street had a glass front door. And every time the goat had passed one, he'd seen another 65-pound billy goat that looked just like him. Evidently this prompted him to have a head-butting contest even while fleeing from the veterinarian who was about to castrate him.
It wasn't until I saw the second or third front door with broken glass that it dawned on me what was happening. About that time I heard the fourth door shatter and saw Billy leaving the crime scene with glass still dripping off his head. With a sinking feeling I realized that every time this small goat busted up a glass door it was costing the clinic about $500. I was only planning to charge $35 to castrate the rascal!
By now the neighbors had come out to see what all the commotion was. One by one they joined in the chase until we had a posse of Ritz Avenue residents in hot pursuit. We joined ranks and began heading Billy down alleys where there were no glass doors. As luck would have it, one gate was open and the little goat ducked in. This gave us the means to corner him.
I jumped out of the pickup and made a beeline for the goat. He was standing next to a storage shed looking away from me. I snuck around the corner and pounced, taking him completely by surprise. I got him by the horns, and this time there was no way he was escaping my grip.
A lingering reminder
I had to put Billy in the cab of the pickup with me for the trip home. Do you know how long billy goat smell stays in the cloth seats of a 1981 Ford pickup? Well, I can tell you-weeks. Only four doors were lost that day (thank goodness), so it sure could have been worse. But to think: I was worried about him tromping through yards and eating a flower bed.
Bo Brock, DVM, owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas. His latest book is Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere: Tales of Humor and Healing From Rural America.